I’d like to introduce you to Janelle. If you read my blog last week, you know that she is one of my two main characters. Janelle is the journalist that is investigating the terrorist attack for her Chicago paper. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Originally from a working class family in Galesburg, IL, Janelle always felt at odds with her parents, brother, friends and with the very town where she was raised. Of average height with hair that tended to frizz in summer’s humidity, she had less in common with her athletic older brother than his blond hair and solid build. Janelle was a questioner in an unquestioning family. Her search for answers disrupted her classes and wore on her parents’ last nerve.
To provide their daughter with a more disciplined structure and, they hoped, to head off the rebelliousness of adolescence, Janelle’s parents sent her to the Catholic middle school. If she had felt like she didn’t fit in before, being the only Methodist at the school only accentuated her outsider status.
However, the school’s no-nonsense structure had her parents’ desired effect, and when Janelle went on to Galesburg High School, she had achieved a discipline that served her well. An honors student, she took the school’s journalism class her junior year – twice – and finally found a place where her questions were an asset. She worked on the school newspaper and yearbook. Her senior year, she did an internship at the local weekly newspaper, was a National Honor Society member and still found time to be in the Scholastic Bowl and hold a part-time job.
Encouraged by her journalism teacher, Janelle applied to Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications where she not only was accepted, but received an academic scholarship and need-based grants. She thrived at Northwestern and enrolled in the Accelerated Master’s Program, earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism in just under five years.
As a grad student in an investigative journalism class, Janelle participated in the Medill Innocence Project (now the Medill Justice Project). Her eyes opened to justice ill-served, she became keenly aware of the role the media plays in shaping public opinion.
As a reporter, she now weighs her sources carefully. What are their filters? Do they have an ax to grind? How can she, through her words on a page or on a screen, ensure that justice is served.